The Russian military convoy, which includes several Iskander ballistic missile launchers, is believed to be heading for the town near the border with Finland.
Dashcam video released May 16 shows a convoy of Russian military vehicles moving along the highway, including at least seven vehicles transporting ammunition and launchers for the Iskander ballistic missile complex.
The voiceover in the video said the military convoy was on its way to Vyborg, a Russian city near the border with Finland, shortly after the neighboring country’s leader announced it was joining NATO. The person said it “appears as if a new military unit is to be created in Vyborg” or in the Leningrad province.
Russia and Finland did not comment on this information.
US officials say Russia’s Iskander ballistic missile is widely deployed and capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. A senior US Air Force officer said the Western intelligence community considers Iskander to be one of the top nuclear threats.
The above video comes days after Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev warned NATO that Moscow would deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in response to Finland and Sweden joining the US-led military alliance. Mr Medvedev said that the two Nordic countries joining NATO “will end denuclearization in the Baltics”.
Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO on May 18, a move warmly welcomed by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. NATO will then discuss Sweden and Finland’s applications for membership before the parliaments of the 30 member countries review and ratify the criteria, a process expected to take more than a year.
However, Turkey surprised its allies in recent days by announcing that it does not support the accession of Finland and Sweden. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Finland and Sweden of harboring organizations identified by Turkey as terrorists and criticized the arms embargo imposed by Stockholm.
Meanwhile, Russia voiced its anger at the scenario of further NATO expansion eastward. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on May 16 that NATO expansion was indeed “causing problems,” saying the move was in the US interest.
Finland shares a 1,300 km border with Russia. They became neutral by a treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union in 1948, hoping to prevent a repeat of the 1939 Finnish-Soviet war that killed more than 80,000 soldiers.
During the Cold War, the Nordic country retained its non-aligned principle, despite the influence of both blocs led by the Soviet Union and the United States. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Finland gradually shifted its foreign policy focus to the West, marked by the decision to join the EU in 1995.
Sweden followed a similar path after the end of the Cold War, when it joined the EU in 1995 and increased cooperation with NATO. Sweden has avoided joining a military alliance for over 200 years.
Nguyen Tien (Corresponding New York Post)